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HomeNL-2016-12 Kayak Murderess

The Kayak Murderess (2)
Fiction by David Portz

I read about the fiancée in New York and decided I would do that too.
I suggested to Edsel that we paddle a stretch of the Guadalupe, just the two of us. Romantic. We traveled in two cars so we could do a shuttle. We left mine at the pull-out and took Edsel’s upstream. In mine was his personal flotation device, his ‘PFD’. Check.

Embarking we had only one PFD and he insisted I wear it. “You’re the weaker paddler,” he mansplained. It would normally have gone against all his principles to not drive back for the PFD, but his car was low on gas, check, and I insisted we should go back. “Because you’re a weak paddler too.” “We can do without it this time,” he said. “I’ll be all right.”

Just before launching I unscrewed the drain plug from the stern of his kayak. He didn’t notice. Check.

I am checking the boxes on the methodology of the New York Kayak Murderess, whose trial is just winding up. After picnicking on an island using a trash bag as a picnic blanket, and consuming plenty of Lay’s Barbecue Potato Chips and sake, she and her fiancé set out to paddle across the Hudson River back to her car. She’d skipped bringing his PFD, and before the return trip, unscrewed his drain plug.

A couple of other things were going for her. It was mid-April in New York and the river’s water was chilly. Sloshing waves could reach the hole vacated by the drain plug. They were far from view of anyone but there was cell reception. You work with what you have however. I had the Guadalupe River in mid-Autumn, warm temperature, no waves.

We set out paddling downstream. Edsel extemporized, ball-parking the species of birds we were seeing, sounding upon where fish might be, prognosticating at each curve of the river that it would curve back, delineating clouds shaped like lemmings, otters and sharks. On a sandy spit we lunched on Lay’s Barbecue Potato Chips washed down by sake. Told I had forgotten the sandwiches, Edsel said it was just like me to do that.

The New York Murderess was burnt up not only because her fiancé was an inconsiderate pig but because he’d imported her from Herzegovina and acted like he owned her, and had suggested that they try some threesomes. She was pretty and lithe and he was poxy and log-like. She conceived a hatred for him.

I went light on potato chips. Edsel ate most of them.

I did not see how enough river water would enter Edsel’s drain hole, so I began splashing playfully, like we never do. If I counted on my fingers the years since I splashed someone with a paddle, I’d need thirty fingers. That was in summer, ganging up with her own sinister chums against my little sister, so she almost drowned. Edsel bought right into this frolic. He began swinging his paddle hard and drenching me. My precision splashes were aimed at his drain plug. With his grandiose splashing I'm sure he sloshed more water into his own boat than I did. 

The New York Kayak Murderess saw her fiancé’s kayak over-washed by waves until it capsized. The fiancé panicked. His paddle floated off. He asked and then pleaded for her to help him; she said she wouldn’t. At some point, his speech became slurred and his lips blubbery, hypothermia. About 15 minutes more of that and then she called 911, fake panicky.

Among his bad habits Edsel was an inveterate scavenger. He always scanned brush piles and snags for leavings: coozies, tubes of sunscreen, T-shirts, rope. This was a very rich day for inflatable objects. Shortly after starting, Edsel found an escaped beach ball, colors faded, which he stuffed in his bow. After lunch in quick succession he found two rental inner tubes, lost by tubers along with their deposits. With his rope leader he tied these to his stern and became a flotilla. His deployment of floats made this an unlucky day for murder. I accordingly gave up. He was not so bad anyway. He just had a tendency to over-explain things, while awake, and while asleep he snored.

There are apparently minor surgeries which can address a snoring problem. Nothing can keep a man from over-explaining however.

The New York Kayak Murderess made a mistake of being attracted to the investigating police officer, and said she was glad her fiancé was gone. She and this officer had a long interview walking alone together along the Hudson.

Edsel was feeling quite odd - potato chips and sake. But he spotted another inner tube and insisted I go after it. His indigestion made me feel a certain tenderness for him and I paddled to the tube. At that same time Edsel drifted into a strainer.

Strainers are branches hanging in the river which, once the current carries you into their arms, want to hold you and let the current drag the boat under. This strainer halfheartedly wanted to drown Edsel.

With the third inner tube I paddled to Edsel. He was sticking sideways out of his kayak into the current. He sputtered ‘Thank God’ and then issued an explanation of how I should yank this way and then that way, throw him a line, take his paddle, push his bow, push his stern, approach from below, give him my paddle. The New York Kayak Murderess would have been told similar mansplained directions. She had hung back, letting her fiancé’s lips blubber to a halt. Edsel on the other hand would not shut up.

I suggested to Edsel ultimately that his boat was not going to sink and in fact if he simply hefted onto this third inner tube here he could float to safety; his boat would dislodge and follow him. We were right near the pull-out. About twenty feet downstream it widened and he could have walked.

His snoring really doesn’t bother me.

He got in the tube and floated to the shallows. I caught his kayak as it became free. He clambered ashore and I beached the boats. He threw up Lays Barbecue Potato Chips in the bushes, and sake. He said he would never even venture out of our house again without donning his personal flotation device. He said very little else as we drove to his car, under the impression he had just escaped death.

I think the New York Kayak Murderess is going to end up in the slammer. If she gets off they might deport her to Herzegovina anyway. I’m kind of happy Edsel survived. Well, mixed feelings. I’m considering setting up a paddling trip for us on the Hudson up North next April. And perhaps a solo trip for me to Herzegovina, later in the year.

The author, David Portz